Tonight I had dinner with Mandeep, a Sardar I matched with on Bumble, at the vegetarian restaurant Mildred’s in Soho.
It’s one of the few times i’m going on a blind date with someone I met online, but I thought i’d give it a shot, after all online dating is so common these days and as my auntie Manju says “Beti this is the modern version of arranged marriage, everyone who’s everyone is online dating so you better jump on the bandwagon!”.
Mandeep is a strict vegetarian and doesn’t drink either, not that its an issue but it sure does put me to shame. I know I shouldn’t judge, but I hope he is not boring and has a playful side too.
Mildred’s is a cosy restaurant in the middle of Soho, London. Perfect for any vegetarians or vegans. I suggested it for that reason, it ticks the boxes for cuisine and location. Let’s hope he likes it too!
I arrived early and sat at the table eagerly awaiting his arrival. We had arranged to meet at 6.30pm and I as ever was punctual reaching at 6.25pm and seated by 6.30pm. Mandeep text me just as a sat down and wrote in the message “Apologies, I’m running late. I’ve just reached Oxford Circus and i’m on my way”. He arrived at our table at 6.40pm. Ten minutes late is not too bad, that’s not an issue.
We greeted each other with a smile and a distant hug before we both sat down. We exchanged pleasantries and then went on to look at the menu. When the waiter came over Mandeep ordered the food for both of us as we had discussed.
Mandeep was tall with what can only be described as typical ‘sardar’ features; broad shoulders, neatly tied turban and a long maintained beard with a strong jawline. He was funny, witty, intelligent and seemed to be serious about settling down. I think it helps that we are similar age to each other also. Both being from punjabi origins helped too as we had very common upbringing and childhood memories. I don’t know if he realises that I am Hindu Punjabi but hopefully that’s not an issue for him.
The restaurant was busy but had a cosy, relaxed atmosphere. There is a botanical, natural feel to the place with hanging plants and pictures of nature and animals on the wall.
The food had arrived and we both looked excited. I had a cheeky thought to myself, if the date didn’t go well at least the food was amazing. We ordered vegetarian dumplings and a halloumi salad as starters, a roasted vegetables stew and a vegetarian bangers and mash for mains.
As we settled into our table, the conversation was flowing and we were laughing a lot. We seemed to get on really well. The waitress came over to clear our starters and even commented on how relaxed we were with each other saying “It must have been a long time since you guys have seem each other, you seem like you have a lot to catch up on”. We laughed, little does she know this is a blind date and it’s the first time we have ever met each other. Is that a sign? (Sandy, stop yourself from getting too excited girl!)
The mains came out and as we started on them I couldn’t help but admire how good the food was. I think Mandeep felt the same as he devoured his plate within 10mins! I on the other hand took my time as I realised that I was doing the majority of the talking. It was slightly strange, Mandeep was quiet but clearly confident. He seemed like a sweet, gentle giant.
As the evening went on neither of us wanted to end the night early so we pondered over ordering dessert or not. In the end we ordered one dessert each and hot drinks. It was clear that neither of us wanted to leave in a hurry. It was Mandeep that pushed for this so I knew he was enjoying my company.
The topic of families, upbringing and religion came up. I was anxious but I believe that honesty is best and thought to myself if he has has an issue with me being Hindu then that’s his issue and its better for me to know now rather than later. After all nothing lost after one blind date together! The question came and he asked me in such a way that I knew he would be disappointed with my answer. “You’re sikh too right?” he said whilst smiling at me in the hope of agreement.
Oh gosh, how do I even respond to that in a way that doesn’t create an abrupt end to this could be blossoming romance! Well we all know how this date is going to end now! “No, i’m Hindu. I’m Hindu punjabi though. Me and my family go to the Gurdwara as well as the Mandir” I replied. As predicted, his face said it all. “Oh I presumed as your name is Sandy, it was short for Sandeep and you were Sikh” he said. “No, it is Sandy but I am Hindu punjabi not Sikh”. We look at each other awkwardly for the duration of the meal. We both finish our desserts and drinks, and Mandeep asks the waiter for the bill. He paid for the bill even though I offered to split it 50/50. We said our goodbyes and went our separate ways home. It was pretty clear that we would not be meeting again!
Later on that evening, Mandeep messaged me to ask if i had reached home okay. I replied to tell him that I did and to thank you for the dinner. I never heard from Mandeep again!